Fixations and Fandoms

e1d57-atoz2019tenthannOkay, so here’s a cheat day (spoiler alert: there might be a few of them this month), though, in my defense, internet fandom is the realm of high emotions and hyper-fixation, and is incredibly kind to — and honestly, probably dominated by — fans with neurodivergences.

This was partially inspired by my husband, who, when I told him I was thinking of doing the A-to-Z Challenge and was brainstorming themes, wondered aloud if I thought I had “enough fandoms” to do a Fandom A-to-Z.  Which, honestly, I think would be both a challenge and a boatload of fun, but instead I decided to keep more thematically connected to the blog.  And, since this blog is both personal and about neurodivergence, I figured I could spare a couple of posts that hit on one or both slightly more tangentially.

I have been in fandom for the better part of my life.  I honestly think I’m as drawn to fandom as I am because of who I am — I fixate, hyperfocus, and perseverate as a simple fact of my existence, and I’ve engaged in a what I’d call mild maladaptive daydreaming to some extent since I was nine years old. The fact that fandom accepts and celebrates that level of devotion, focus, and enthusiasm and allows a safe, social space for escapist fantasy speaks to me on a deep, down-in-my-soul level.

I feel like mainstream perception of fandom has improved exponentially over my lifetime, though I also think there is still some of the old stigma; people, I think, assume fandom skews younger than it does, and s a result tends to infantilizes adults who are active participants (though, as I said, this is become less of an issue as more and more people are becoming openly fannish).  My own fandom has, ever since I entered fandom at 12 or 13 years old, skewed heavily toward female/queer-centered spaces and fandoms, spanning a wide age range; I think the current perception that fandom skews younger is because younger fans 1.) have co-opted most of the new mediums that are conducive to fandoms gathering, 2.) have more time in which to pursue fannish activities, and 3.) have less of a reason to be covert about their ages/mask or compartmentalize their lives outside of fandom.

I am very careful about who I reveal my fannishness to; I guess that sound hypocritical, since here I am blogging about it, but I mean in more specific terms.  I’ll talk about being fannish, or even about a particular fandom, but I likely won’t share meta, or art, or fanfic (even though I produce and consume all three) publicly — and lest you think that’s silly or overly dramatic, I’d like to point out that the phrase, “in the fandom closet” exists for a reason.  However, while I’m not going to be plastering my blog with links to my fandom personas or any of my fanfic, I’m happy to talk fandom in a more general sense with anyone who is interested… and often people who are less than interested, to be honest.

To that end, it’s incredibly hard for me to talk succinctly about fandom, so in lieu of writing a cohesive piece beyond what I’ve already got, let me give you a few Fandom Tidbits and Highlights, and I encourage other readers with fannish leanings to share their own.

Year I Got Involved with Fandom:  1996
How Old I Was:  13
First Fandoms:  Disney, specifically Darkwing Duck, The Lion King, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
First Fandom I Ever Wrote For:  Les Miserables
Longest Active Involvement in a Fandom:  Harry Potter
Most Intense Involvement in a Fandom:  House, M.D.
Fandom I’ve Read the Most Fic For:  House, M.D.
Fandom I’ve Written the Most Fic For (Published or Not): Les Miserables and Sherlock
First Convention I Ever Attended:  LeakyCon 2009
Most Hit-Me-Out-of-the-Blue Fandom:  Clay Aiken/The Claymates, post American Idol Season 2
Fandom That Has Had the Greatest Impact on My Real Life:  Supernatural and GISHWHES
Fandoms for Which I’ve Encountered Cast or Creators: RENT, Welcome to Night Vale, Steven Universe
Fandom for Which I’ve Attended the Most IRL Events:  Sherlock and Doctor Who

I welcome questions, discussion, and further contributions.

Seriously.  I can talk about this all day.

FanExpo Boston

Zach Callison is meme trash – pass it on.

I’ve been attending conventions since 2009.  My first con was the inaugural LeakyCon in Boston, followed by recurring attendance at a now defunct convention focused on queer transformative fan media, a single stint at Anime Boston, and my sort of “forever” con – the one I try never to miss – Arisia.  Throw in a couple of one-or-two day mini-cons, like MICE and LadiesCon (which are wonderful and tons of fun, just not the full convention experience as I have come to know it), and con-going isn’t exactly a lifestyle for me, but it’s something I’m well familiar with.

Prior to FanExpo, the most “commercial” con I’d ever been to was Anime Boston, and my understanding is that even AB is still run by local groups.  FanExpo, on the other hand, is the rebranding of Boston Comic-Con, and is a worldwide exhibition organization – they run tons of the other cons under the FanExpo and MegaCon name.  So this was an experience that was very, very new to me – the majority of my con-going experience has been very, very much “by fans, for fans.”

I was supposed to meet-up with a couple of people who ultimately did not show (one who was legitimately sick, and one (my brother) who is just a mega-flake-and-a-half), and I can tell you unequivocally that, especially as someone with social anxiety, having a companion would have elevated the con-going experience exponentially.  There were a lot of free photo ops – there were fully clad Jedis with replica lightsabers, life-sized functional R2D2s, a set piece from the Mos Eisley cantina (complete with Greedo corpse), a replica of the control hub for the TARDIS, life-sized Simpsons couch (with life-sized Simpsons family), and Olmec from Legends of the Hidden Temple (dude, that show was my jam!  Did anyone else turn their backyards/rooms into temple-esque obstacle courses when they were kids?).*  Any of those would have made amazing photos – and made my Insta feed vastly more interesting – but I don’t feel super comfortable approaching strangers on my best days, less so when I’m handing them a valuable possession and just trusting they won’t run off, and I was feeling especially overloaded because of the sheer size and scope of the con already, so approximately zero photos were taken that day.  And that’s a shame; I really would have loved to capture some of that stuff for posterity.

But none of that is the fault of FanExpo.  What FanExpo did do that no other con has done for me before is put me within arms reach of people I deeply admire and fangirl over.  I got to see, for instance, Jeff Goldblum charm the pants off a gaggle of cosplayers, as well as what felt like the entirety of the audience in the Main Stage theatre that day.  I honestly think he must be adept at hypnosis or… I don’t know, something, because while I’ve always liked and enjoyed Jeff Goldblum, I’ve never been a Goldblum “fangirl.”  But man, seeing him up on stage (from an actually pretty close vantage point) just made me absolutely giddy.  He has, ahem, uh… aged well.

I also had the opportunity (though I didn’t take it, because I hadn’t thought ahead) to ask questions of the cast of Steven Universe – I got to hear Zach Callison and Dee Dee Magno Hall sing snippets of “The Room Where it Happened” and “The Schyluer Sisters” (Hamilton meets Steven Universe??  Yes, please!), and I got to participate in a singalong with the cast, which was beyond awesome. Sure, there was some waiting in line, but the wait was maybe 45 minutes for sixth/seventh row seat for Goldblum and fourth row seats for the Steven Universe cast (and only then because the first three rows were reserved for VIP Pass holders), and while in line I got to oogle some of the best cosplayers I’ve ever seen.  Not a shabby trade off.

Capping my evening off, I got to see Boston’s Unscripted Musical Project, an improv comedy troupe that improvises a new musical comedy every night based on audience suggestions.  They were so far above and beyond what I expected (I’ve seen an exceptional improv performance or two, but I’ve seen way, way more terrible improv performances), I actually wish they’d had longer than an hour to perform (though I imagine that’s probably “capacity” for them in terms of being able to sustain an improvised musical, and it’s damn impressive as is.  I just would have liked more of them, is all).  It was nice to see something geeky – and seriously, I mean this is a genuinely affectionate way, but improv is geeky as hell – but not fandom-centric.  It’s one of the things I love so much about Arisia – there’s plenty of fandom, but there’s a ton of stuff to cater to people’s love and interest of other non-fandom geekish interests.

Anyway, all in all, I think a day pass was more than enough for me, though I would happily go back for more of the same next year, assuming I wouldn’t be going alone.  I could have spent hours more wandering the dealer’s room and artist alley, but that likely would not have been the best case scenario for my mental health (serious sensory overloads) or my wallet.  As it was, I spent $40 on four beautiful prints, and am so, so happy that I downloaded the FanExpo app, because I can go through the dealer’s room listings and bookmark more vendors for future online perusal (minus the sensory overload).

And, as happens after every convention, I now feel very, very inspired to be creative, but am immediately dissatisfied with any creative output.  Damn my brain.

I don’t think I’m slated for another con until MICE in October, which will be another one day affair, and then Arisia again in January, which will be nice – Arisia at this point kind of feels like home.

Any fellow con-goers have favorite convention stories to tell?